Top takeaways from the ABC News Democratic debate

ABC News’ Jon Karl, George Stephanopoulos, Linsey Davis and contributor Rahm Emanuel analyze how the 10 candidates tackled the issues.
6:13 | 09/13/19

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Transcript for Top takeaways from the ABC News Democratic debate
Let's bring in our team, chief white house correspondent Jon Karl, my fellow moderator, linsey Davis, Rahm Emanuel, former mayor of Chicago, one of our contributors and, Jon, let me begin with you. Mary was saying it really does appear after last night that the fault lines in the democratic party are clear, the debate is crystallized. Clearly. In the beginning of that debate you saw the revenge of the moderates. It was interesting to see basically ganging up on Bernie Sanders and by extension Elizabeth Warren and the idea of medicare for all. You saw Biden go right there. He was joined in the attack by Amy klobuchar and by the others. It was a clear fault line, a clear area of debate. How does this debate get solved inside the party? The general election. Because there's nothing as unifying as Donald Trump. And I actually -- while there are divisions they're really not huge. Everybody would like to ban assault weapons. Everybody would like to expand health care coverage and control costs. It's how you get there. And Donald Trump is going to bring the party together because he -- the single most, number one, number, two, number three most important goal for the party, ideologically -- They can divide over -- 100%. Whoever is the nominee, every one of those people on the stage will be giving ratifying confirmation of why they're the right person to lead the battle into beating Donald Trump because what he has done, I think and this is my point is which is the best for the general election? A Progressive that either electric 2ri fights the base or a person both in tone, tenor and position who can expand the party's reach in Pennsylvania, in Michigan and in Wisconsin and in Ohio. We had an electrified crowd. You heard from a lot of students afterwards. We talked to them. Interestingly they seemed really interested in criminal justice reform. They liked what they heard last night. They wanted to hear more, in particular, they were interested in mass black incarceration and also the decriminalization of marijuana and what it will mean for current drug offenders and liked what they heard from booker and certainly right behind him from O'rourke and buttigieg. And, Jon, as we take -- as we're about not 24 hours yet, 12 hours out right now, what's the big takeaway? What changed, if anything? I think this was essentially a status quo debate. I mean, Biden comes out of this, he had his best debate performance of the three. It wasn't a particularly strong debate performance overall. He came out fighting. But he came out fighting in the top. You know, Warren didn't really change the dynamic. She didn't do anything to hurt herself or overtake Biden and nobody from the back of the pack had a huge breakthrough moment. I think this leaves the race essentially where it was. Where does it go next? This is a context why it was important. The first two were in the good for the democratic party and had a legacy that impacted the north Carolina election. At the very moment Donald Trump is starting to drop. It means more voters are more available and will look around and the democratic party has an obligation. The debate did it to put a better foot forward and bring those voters into the democratic this is a key moment because Donald Trump is weakening and he knows it. You can see the way he's acting and I think at this point I think the mechanics will continue to sharpen the debates but really on health care, I know we contrast and say these are big divisions, they're really not big divisions in the sense of how you get to further coverage of health care. How you control costs. I think what goes from here is money, energy, I think the big takeaways, probably not big winners, there were clear losers. Who? I think Julian Castro hurt himself because he has a point, it got lost about buy-in versus automatic in and got lost the way he attacked Joe Biden and I think that will hurt him. Still got 20 candidates in the race. First time had ten on the stage. Like an Agatha Christie novel. And at what point or is it going to take until Iowa until the first votes we start to see a smaller more cohesive -- Some of the candidates, Amy klobuchar, kamala Harris, they're notdoctoring. Mayor Pete, they're not dropping out. They think Joe Biden right now is a weak front-runner and they're going to be there in case he falters to -- be there to catch the football. Haven't seen a tweet storm from president trump at least what's the sense of what they were thinking, the trump You saw from trump right before the debate started what he was thinking and it's exactly what Rahm said. He is uneasy. He sees the polls and follows them and his pitch to the Republicans in Baltimore right before the debate started was, you have to vote for me whether you like me or not because the Democrats are going to bring -- are going to send us to hell. It was this stark contrast so it's going to be, you know, a burn, burn, burn election. I don't mean to -- in you think of the first two debates there was a point that the president was a little stable and climbing. Right now he's on the descent. That's a huge opportunity for Democrats. I think if we can improve -- in that summer as the presidential debates happened, Democrats actually went to a net positive, to a net negative. This debate and going forward, we have to improve our contest as a party. Forget the individuals and our image because right now Donald Trump is really wobbly and voters are peeling off him. This is a unique opportunity to prepare us for the general election. His response is Democrats are going to destroy the country. I mean it's not a positive. It's -- Coming from him it's a real insult. Back up to New York. Hey, George, we know there are always unscripted unexpected moments in these types of debates. What surprised you motion about last night? I was surprised that they came to play so hard at the beginning. I was actually as we were preparing for the debate wondering if the Democrats, because you heard it in their opening statements, we're united by much more than guides us and thought at times it would be they weren't willing to debate but they came right out of the box and were willing to play out the differences particularly over health care. George, I know we'll hear much more from you in just a

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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